Friday, February 14, 2014

Greenwood, Grand-Pré, Grand-Pré Winery

I stayed at Sue and Joe’s place for the night and was up bright and early and had Blacky ready to go to the shop, I rode her over and met Ron Smith and his partner Jenni Hamm.

Ron is a wicked automotive mechanic who rides and he had the old girl’s oils starting to drain before I could say hey!

Ron is a character, he’s obviously well thought of too based on the customers that were coming in and thanking him, chatting with him. At one point my stomach started to growl and before I knew it Ron threw me the keys to his pick up and told me to go grab myself some breakfast before the growling got any louder! I was famished. I headed out in the pick up looking for this little restaurant that I can’t remember the name of. The food was good but the portions were small and the service was some slow – maybe that’s why I can’t remember the name! I headed back to the shop to see how my girl was doing and Darren from the CAV stopped in. He’d just gotten off duty and wanted to make arrangements for the next morning meet up and ride out with the CAV.

About noon my bike was to go. Ron had pointed out that I had what looked like an oil leak starting in a push rod. Thankfully it turned out to be a loose head bolt causing the slobbering and it was running down the side of the push rod tube and pooling at the base…bolt tightened, oil cleaned up and I was sent on my way with a hug and a reminder to keep an eye on that bolt.

I headed back to Sue and Joe’s place, said my goodbyes and headed back towards Windsor. I had a lot of sight seeing to do.

I went to Grande Pre Historical Site first. My Acadian roots were calling and I had heard so much about this place that I could not pass up the chance to explore.

Grande Pre in French means large meadow and it was here in 1680 that the first French people landed to form a colony on the shores of the Minas Basin. They built dike to
hold the ocean back and that offered them very rich and fertile land for pastures and growing crops. Port Royal became the major community and by the mid 1,700’s it was the largest of the many Acadian communities that had grown around the Bay of Fundy. The Minas area was known as the bread-basket for the region the Acadians prospered.

In the year 1713, Port Royal had become known as Annapolis Royal and the region of Grande Pre came under British Rule when the region became known as Nova Scotia. The Acadians chose to stay in spite of being asked to swear an oath of allegiance to the king and crown of Great Britain.

Many signed what was known as a conditional oath when they were promised they would not be forced to take up arms against France or the Mi’kmaq nation.
When England and France declared war in 1744 tensions and troubles began in earnest for the Acadians.

Halifax was the new capital of the British Colony and yet the majority of those who lived in the colony were Acadian. The French were living on the richest land in the region and the British wanted to bring more Protestants into the area.

In 1755, with their boats and guns confiscated, and delegates who had been sent to Halifax to present a petition to the British imprisoned, the Acadians of the Minas area were in a precarious position.

Lieutenant Colonel John Winslow arrived with his troops on August 19, 1755 and made is headquarters in the church. 

On September 5th all of the men and boys in the region were ordered to gather only to have Winslow tell them that everything but their most personal of possessions were being forfeited to the Crown and that hey were being deported. 6,000 people from all over Nova Scotia, but primarily form the Minas Basin region were deported; their homes and villages were burned to the ground. Peace would not be restored to the area until 1763 when England and France ended the war. In the meantime, thousands more were deported, over the 8 years of the war, over 10,000 Acadians would be removed.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, Evangeline, was published in the United States in 1847, and the story of the Deportation and the Great Upheaval, was told to the English-speaking world for the first time. Grand-Pré, forgotten for almost a century became popular for American tourists anxious to visit the birthplace of the poem's heroine, Evangeline. But there was nothing really left to see.

In 1920 the DAR – the Dominion Atlantic Railway who now owned the property erected a statue of Evangeline conceived by Canadian sculptor Philippe Hébert finished by his son Henri after Phillipe’s death.

Later in 1922, on a piece of land that was deeded to them, la Société l'Assomption, a mutual insurance company owned and managed by Acadians and the Société Nationale l'Assomption, an advocacy organization, a committee raised funds to build a commemorative church in Grand Pré, the construction began and the church
was completed in 1930 for the 175th anniversary of the Deportation, when it opened as a museum.

The commemorative church committee erected a cross, in 1924, two kilometres from the church, in memory of the Deportation. The cross was moved in 2005 and is now located at Horton Landing, on the edge of the Minas Basin.

The government of Canada acquired Grand-Pré in 1957 and it was designated a national historic site in 1961. It is now also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As a person with Acadian ancestors I had known some of the history and as I moved through the exhibits and out to the grounds, the reality of the happy and sad times, the harshness of the times and the war , fear and hatred really hit home.

It was as if the ghosts of my ancestors were there and I could imagine them at different times crying, laughing, screaming.

Yes this place evokes strong emotions and so it should. 
I said a prayer at the statue of Evangeline and headed for my bike.

As I headed off to the Grand Pre Winery, I found myself contemplating my Acadian heritage, our country and it’s history and how far we’ve come in so many ways and yet, sadly today we still experience discrimination, fear, greed, contempt it seems people never change, only the struggle.

I rode into the Domaine de Grande Pre parking lot and walked up the steps the gift shop. There was a beautiful water fountain that caught my eye and I stopped for a moment to admire it. I walked into the gift shop and the little gal behind the counter steered me back outside as a tour of the winery and grounds had just begun.

By the time I caught up with the group, they were admiring some L’Acadie Blanc grapes that were growing on the vines.

 As I listened to Cacilia Stutz, one of the owners of the winery describe the family’s passion for creating unique to the region wine I thought to myself you guys are on to something. She explained that Nova Scotia has a unique climate for grape growing and by making wine that is suited to those grapes they have come up with some delicious recipes.
The winery and attached restaurant are all family owned.
While we never got to meet Jurg Stutz, the winemaker, we did get an education on his education and the knowledge that has made him one of the best vintners in the region.

After learning about the different grapes they grow we went back to the gift shop which just happens to include a wine tasting bar.

We were treated to some amazing samples of 100% Nova Scotian wines.

We sampled the Cabernet Foch, which was so rich and full bodied without being overly dry.

Made with a grape that is a hybrid of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the winter hardy and disease resistant Maréchal Foch
grape, this wine is pleasant to the nose. You catch a whiff of cherry and spices along with the lush ripeness fo the grapes and the flavor plays on your tongue with deep rich flavours like blackberry undertones with a hint of smoke.

It’s the kind of wine that delivers its flavor in increments, each building on the last. MMMM, oh I didn’t mention I am a red wine FREAK!

Then we sampled the Rose, which is made from the L'Acadie Blanc and Maréchal Foch grapes.

It was light and fresh, not overly sweet but fruity and refreshing. Not to my taste but definitely a great wine if Rose is your thing.

The Tidal Bay was my favorite – made with L’Acadie Blanc grapes this wine was earthy and you could literally taste the ocean in it – without it being salty or tart. Words cannot portray the crisp and yet rich flavour or the body of this wine, so I encourage you to try it. It is truly unique.

Cacilia explained that there are several wineries in the region that were all challenged to make their own version of the Tidal Bay as part of a competition to promote the L’Acadie Blanc grape.

I promised myself I would try some of the other versions if I were given a chance.
The very last wine we tasted was a dessert wine. And it wasn’t made using grapes. It was made using apples.

The Pomme d’Or – Golden Apple was the best dessert wine I have tasted in a long time. I ended up buying a bottle of it and some cheese because I just knew there would be a late night where that might come in handy…

I had called Sue Cole and she decided to come and join me for supper. I figured that since I had had enough wine to make me feel light headed I was going to stay and try out the restaurant here.

While I waited for Sue, I visited the small museum on wine making located in the basement of the gift shop. It’s not very big, but it has some wonderful information and some great examples of different equipment like corkscrews and their evolution.

The restaurant, Le Caveau, was fully booked with a waiting list a mile long. We opted for the deck and shared a table with a couple of the locals who explained that there was going to be a band coming on later and apparently the place fills up every time there is live entertainment.

The food they told us was exquisite; Sue and I decided to try a number of appetizers for supper instead of the larger heavier full meals.

We had scallops that were ammmmazing, a wonderful salad that had a citrus dressing and goat cheese on it and the pate tasting tray. The three pates were accompanied by spice bread, a shallot compote and piccalilli, which is a relish of chopped pickled vegetables and spices. I am so glad that I did not order a big meal; the appies had been rich and more than satisfying.

As the musicians came on around 7:30, Sue and I headed over to the Clockmakers Inn to have a coffee and bit of girls gab. We sat outside on the big wrap around veranda and then moved out to the chairs in the yard to watch the stars. Sue left around 9pm and I headed in doors the get ready for a good nights sleep. I was one tired girl.

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